Shop Windows to the Universe

Learn about planets outside our solar system through Exoplanets and Alien Solar Systems by Tahir Yaqoob, Ph.D., a book in our online store book collection.
Solar eclipse image taken aboard Gemini 12.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA

Can an Eclipse Change Gravity? (Updated!)
News story originally written on September 20, 1999

It will take many more months before the verdict is in, but scientists are already contemplating some new information. The last solar eclipse of the millennium served as a great opportunity to test a phenomenon discovered by Maurice Allais in 1954. Allais believed that a solar eclipse can affect Earth's gravity.

David Doever of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Centre in Huntsville, and his partner, Ron Koczor, have received most of the data. Pendulums were set up in various countries, with some in the path of the eclipse and others not. Some of the preliminary results are interesting.

Video cameras taped the pendulum movements before, during and after the solar eclipse. Although no change was viewed in the pendulums outside of the eclipse path, two different sites in Europe revealed exciting results. These researchers, which were inside the path of the eclipse, discovered a change in the pendulum's path. If the results are correct, then another mystery was just created. Why would gravity change only in the areas under the eclipse' path?

"We haven't looked at their videos in detail yet, and we're not going to reach any conclusions just by eyeballing them," says Koczor, who's trying to organize the mountains of data. "If, in fact, pendulums go crazy during eclipses it suggests we don't really have an understanding of gravity and the intersection of different bodies."

Koczor says much of the data still needs to be analyzed, but the current results have stumped the scientific community. "It's easy if we see nothing," Koczor says. But if there's something there, "it's a different ball game."

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology, rocks and minerals, oceanography, and Earth system science to astronomy!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Solar Eclipses

An eclipse of the Sun occurs when the Earth passes through the Moon's shadow. A total eclipse of the Sun takes place only during a new moon, when the Moon is directly between the Sun and the Earth and...more

1999--A Year in Review...

It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more

STS-95 Launch: "Let the wings of Discovery lift us on to the future."

The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 2:19 p.m. EST, October 29th. The sky was clear and the weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit for the Unitied...more

Moon Found Orbiting Asteroid

A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more

U.S. is Fed Up with Russia

Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials are demanding an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting...more

More on Recent Coronal Mass Ejection

During a period of about two days in early May, 1998, the ACE spacecraft was immersed in plasma associated with a coronal mass ejection (CME). The SWICS instrument on ACE, which determines unambiguously...more

Mother Nature's Air Conditioning

J.S. Maini of the Canadian Forest Service has referred to forests as the "heart and lungs of the world." Forests reduce soil erosion, maintain water quality, contribute to atmospheric humidity and cloud...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA